‘If Public Education Doesn’t Prosper, We Won’t Prosper,’ Hosemann Says at Tupelo Campaign Stop

Tupelo, Miss. (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced Wednesday that he’ll seek the office of lieutenant governor this year.

Launching a statewide tour to pitch his candidacy, Hosemann, a Republican, stopped in Tupelo at Hawkeye Industries to discuss his policy priorities.

In his remarks, the third-term secretary of state especially pledged to focus on jobs, education, infrastructure and healthcare access.

He placed particular emphasis on education.

“If public education doesn’t prosper, we won’t prosper as a state,” he said.

Since Republicans took control of the entire state legislature following 2011 elections, education has indeed been a recurring a controversial theme, with GOP leadership creating charter school provisions, fending off efforts to force higher appropriations and attempting a rewrite the school funding formula.

Hosemann shied away from these hot-button topics of past sessions. Instead, he said he wants to expand pre-kindergarten education, boost teacher pay, increase partnerships between high schools and community colleges and involve the business community in workforce training.

He especially accented the need for targeted jobs-skills training.

“Educated workforce is where I’ll spend about half my time,” Hosemann said. “Our businesses have been reluctant to get involved in high school education. That reluctance will change.”

On healthcare, Hosemann noted the tough times many hospitals, especially rural ones, have faced.

“A lot of our hospitals are closing,” Hosemann said.

When asked by the Daily Journal, Hosemann tentatively voiced support for certain kinds of Medicaid expansion. However, he rejected the terms of Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act.

He said that would be too expensive for the state and voiced support for Gov. Phil Bryant’s refusal to accept expansion under those terms.

Instead, he held out the possibility of seeking some kind of expansion under different terms, as Arkansas and Indiana have done.

“I think we can negotiate out where we can get an affordable expansion,” Hosemann said. “When you get to break even, that’s when you can afford to expand.”

Hosemann touted his record as secretary of state, including efforts to streamline business licensing and the role he played shepherding voter ID regulations.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, is seeking the office of governor. Due to term limits, he cannot seek the office of lieutenant governor this election cycle.

Democrat state Rep. Jay Hughes, of Oxford, announced last year that he’ll run for lieutenant governor.

Hughes and Hosemann are the only candidates to announce for that office thus far.